Now that’s a restoration

Velazquez restoration

Study, Velasquez

Last year, I was hanging around Viridian Artists, up to no good, and Simon Cerigo came in to visit, and we talked about a show at Zwirner which I’d just seen a few hours earlier. I was still raving about it. “Too finished,” he said, of Michael Borremans, which at the time I thought was funny, since the technique I’d seen was anything but finished. It was economical, supremely confident. Masterful. (I haven’t checked lately. Is it OK to say master, if you don’t say “old” first?) This painting reminds me of that work, in retrospect. The body is just sketched in. The wiry hair is preternaturally rendered without a lot of arduous specificity. Try doing that sometime, that hair. Maybe it’s just the way the canvas is lit. I wish. And it’s just a study for The Surrender of Breda. Thin under-layers of paint with hardly a second or third application. You mistake the weave of the canvas for the weave of the sleeve, the paint is so insubstantial. I think maybe I’ll try doing nothing but studies. Oh, yeah, this is how it looks after the incredibly successful restoration a few years ago. (Somebody, please forward this to Cecilia Gimenez.) Anyway, Simon, I understood what you meant. Exhibit A, see above. But you’d still probably say, “too finished.”

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